How To Drill Through A Porcelain Tile Without Cracking It

One of the most challenging do-it-yourself jobs is drilling through porcelain tile. Knowing the right tools for the job can mean the difference between success or ending up with a shattered tile.

In order to drill through a porcelain tile, the type of drill bit that is used makes a huge difference. For porcelain tile, a diamond-tipped drill bit is recommended. This kind of drill bit is extremely hard and is able to penetrate tough porcelain tile.

How To Drill Through A Porcelain Tile Without Cracking It

Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects can often become more difficult when the wrong tools are used.

Porcelain tile is no exception, and this popular floor and wall covering is frequently a part of DIY projects.

Read also: Cordless Drills And Diamond Drill Bits for Granite

Below is a guide that will help you drill through the hardest of tiles.

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The Right Tools for The Job

Drilling jobs are more successful when you plan ahead. Having the right equipment and a steady hand is important as well.

Failing to plan and prepare may result in shattered tile and a big mess. In order to drill through porcelain tile, you should have:

  • An appropriate drill bit
    • The drill bit should be harder than the surface being drilled into – which is tricky in the case of porcelain. Very few substances are harder than this. The recommended drill bits are:
      • Diamond tipped drill bits – diamonds are extremely hard.
      • Carbide tipped drill bits – carbide is a mixture of carbon and metal, which makes it extremely durable.
  • A drill with a variable speed trigger
  • Cooling lubricant
    • No matter what type of drill bit is used, it will get extremely hot. A cooling lubricant such as cutting oil or even water will help cool down the bit.
    • Use a sponge or spray bottle for water and be ready to apply it frequently.

The correct drill bit will allow even a beginning do-it-yourselfer the ability to create holes in dense, hard porcelain tiles.

The key to success is being prepared, and this may mean purchasing a special diamond or carbide drill bit. A regular masonry or tile drill bit will not be able to handle this type of job.

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For many first-time drillers, the idea of purchasing a diamond drill bit may seem strange. However, given their durability, carbide and diamond materials are very popular in a variety of tools, including:

  • Saw blades
  • Lathe blades
  • Router blades
  • Dental drills

Owning a drill bit with these properties will allow a homeowner or handyman to be able to drill through a variety of hard tiles and surfaces.

Porcelain and ceramic tiles can be found throughout the home, but especially in the bathroom and kitchen. Chances are, you may have to drill through the tile on multiple occasions.

Steps for Drilling Through Porcelain Tile

Once the right tools have been gathered, the next part of doing this job correctly is knowing how to go about it.

Many experienced craftsmen have provided tips for making this experience go smoothly. To drill through porcelain tile, these steps are recommended:

1. Make a mark

    • Apply masking tape to the tile and mark the spot you wish to drill.
    • The tape will keep the drill bit from slipping, and the mark helps you stay accurate with your drill.

2. Start slowly

    • Using the variable speed on your drill, start at the slowest setting.
    • Never put too much pressure – this could cause the tile to crack.
    • Slow, steady pressure with a low drill speed is key.

3. Cool off the drill bit

    • Every 15-30 seconds, dip your drill bit in cutting oil or spray it with cold water
    • This prevents overheating and damage to your drill bit
    • Use a rag to wipe the drill bit clean

4. Repeat

Repeat these steps until you have drilled through the porcelain tile

When drilling through porcelain tile, it is important to:

  • work slowly
  • have a steady hand
  • be patient

Drilling through the surface too quickly may lead to a shattered tile and ruined project. Applying even pressure and stopping frequently to cool off the drill bit will result in a more successful job.

All drill bits become hot when in use, but this is especially true with diamond and carbide bits working through porcelain tile. The heat produced from the friction can be quite intense, and caution is required.

What to Avoid When Drilling Through Porcelain Tile

An experienced handyman will tell you that there are a few common mistakes people make when attempting to drill through super hard tile.

Learning from the experts means fewer mistakes and costly repairs. Here are a few of their tips on what to avoid when drilling through hard porcelain:

  • Do not drill fast – remember, slow and steady wins this race.
  • Do not use a hammer drill – a hammer drill moves quickly back and forth, much like a hammer and nail. This type of force will most certainly cause a crack in the tile.
  • Do stop if your drill bit is smoking or red – this is a warning sign that the friction and heat from the drilling action are damaging the drill bit.
  • Do not try to use a regular drill bit – it will not be durable enough for the job.
  • Do not start the job without planning properly – take time to prepare, it will pay off.
  • Take special care if working near the edge of a tile – it is especially prone to cracking.

What Makes Porcelain Tile Special?

Not all tiles are the same. Just as with rock, the hardness of a tile can vary greatly – from crumbly adobe tile to durable marble tile. Porcelain tiles are special because they are extremely hard. In fact, they are almost as hard as granite rock.

Tiles are made from a variety of materials. Porcelain tiles have a high silica content. They are baked in a kiln with incredibly high heat, which creates a very hard tile.

Essentially, porcelain is a type of man-made ceramic material. It is dense, heavy and super difficult to drill through.

Some porcelain tiles are then glazed, which creates a shiny surface. This surface is also very slippery, making the job of drilling through the tile even more challenging.

Due to their durability and water-resistance, porcelain and ceramic tiles are popular for a variety of surfaces, including:

  • Kitchen walls and backsplashes
  • Kitchen floors
  • Bathroom walls and shower enclosures
  • Bathroom floors

Because they are so popular as a floor and wall material, chances are many homeowners may find themselves needing to drill through them at some point.

Some common projects that often require drilling through porcelain tile include:

  • Installing towel racks
  • Remodeling the shower enclosure
  • Installing a new appliance in the kitchen
  • Hanging decor
  • Attaching mirrors
  • Cutting tile to fit a floor
  • Installing pipes

These are just a few of the possibilities that may impact homeowners and construction workers. Porcelain tile is especially common because it is so durable and strong.

Unfortunately, these same qualities make it tricky to work with.

Being prepared with the right tools and know-how ensures even the beginner handyman can have success.

Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.